Letters to the Editor

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Community

Broadband roll-out

High-speed fibre broadband has emerged as one of the hottest topics of recent years for communities across Midlothian.

Increasingly, it is a ‘must have’ technology.

Local households and businesses are using it for everything from selling products to filling in government forms, helping with education, adding to entertainment or simply staying in touch.

A great deal has already been achieved in Scotland thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership between the Scottish and UK governments, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, local authorities, BT and others.

More than 27,000 premises in Midlothian can now access fibre broadband as a result of the partnership and BT’s own commercial rollout of this exciting technology.

And the number of homes and businesses able to get fibre is growing rapidly. By the end of March 2018, Scottish coverage is expected to have reached around 95 per cent.But what about the people not yet included in any existing rollout plan and who don’t get included in the next stage of public funding?Part of BT’s mission is to listen to those worried they’re not in any upgrade programme - and do what we can to help.

We’ve just announced our commitment to work with communities to find a fibre solution and have set up a community fibre partnership scheme to enable this. Our strong ambition is never to say ‘no’ and rather to work together until we have agreed a suitable and affordable option. Indeed, we’ve already worked with 90 UK communities where local people have got together and pooled their funds with our contribution.

If any Midlothian community contacts us at www.openreach.co.uk/communityfibre we’ll do whatever we can to help, including co-funding options. This initiative will complement the main fibre deployment and the Community Broadband Scotland programme already operating across Scotland, with everyone pulling together to deliver a truly Digital Scotland.

Householders and businesses can check the latest situation for their area by going to the Digital Scotland and Openreach superfast broadband websites.

UK fibre broadband coverage is currently at 90 per cent, on course for 95 per cent by the end of 2017. Independent studies already place the UK top of the European Union’s five largest countries for broadband.

Our job now is to make sure that the UK remains at the forefront of this exciting technological revolution by doing whatever’s possible to help the remaining five per cent of households and businesses still awaiting good news.

Gavin Patterson

Chief Executive, BT

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